Reform female rabbis are paid less than male counterparts, study finds

NEW YORK (JTA) — Female Reform rabbis are paid less than their male counterparts, according to a new study by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

The Study of Rabbinic Compensation by Gender collected gender and biennial salary data of CCAR rabbis and congregations that are members of the Union for Reform Judaism and represent the majority of CCAR rabbis who are serving URJ congregations on a full-time basis.

“While we have always done salary surveys about the Reform rabbinate, we have now collected hard data and information that allows for greater analysis,” Rabbi Jonathan Stein, CCAR’s president, said in a statement. 

Solo or senior rabbis, as well as assistant female rabbis, earn less than their male counterparts on average.

For example, newly ordained female senior or solo rabbis serving a congregation of 300 family units earn $97,746, as opposed to male rabbis who make $102,934. And female senior or solo rabbis with five to eight years of experience serving congregations of 600 or more family units make $180,870, while male rabbis earn $217,079.

For associate rabbis, however, the base salaries of female rabbis are slightly higher than for the men.

According to the CCAR, nearly 600 women have become Reform rabbis since 1972 and there are a total of 2,000 Reform rabbis in North America.

“The results were troubling but not surprising; it quantified that which we knew anecdotally,” said Rabbi Steven Fox, chief executive of the CCAR, in a statement. “A salary gap in 2012 is unacceptable.”

Fox said the results of the study present an important opportunity and tool for Reform rabbis, congregations and organizations.

“As the rabbinic voice of the Reform movement, we must take the lead on this issue,” Fox said. “When we see data confirming that few women are serving large congregations on a full-time basis, we need to ask why and what we can do about that.”
 

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